Licence suspension, garnishment of wages, jail time possible for those with unpaid public health order tickets
REGINA -- The Saskatchewan government may suspend driver’s licences, garnish wages or withhold GST rebates and tax returns from those with unpaid fines related to the public health order.
According to Saskatchewan’s Attorney General, public prosecutors intend to “aggressively prosecute” the tickets issued to those who broke orders related to COVID-19. He said he’s confident the province will successfully enforce the collection of these fines.
“There are mechanisms for the government to collect those including licence suspensions, we can register these judgments with [the Canada Revenue Agency],” Wyant said to reporters last week. “We’re quite confident that we have the tools in place to affect the collection of the fines once they’re imposed.”
“Flouting the public health orders and expecting the case to be thrown out in court, I can tell you that’s not going to happen. We are going to aggressively prosecute these tickets,” Wyant said.
Alternate methods of collecting fines can be pursued by the province if the debt goes unpaid for 90 days.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice told CTV News that the province has several methods to collect fines from those who fail to pay. Garnishment of wages and bank accounts and seizure of personal property are all options for the province as it looks to collect fines. It also confirmed that enforcement methods include the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and Goods and Services Tax (GST) set-off programs.
The province can order a hearing to determine whether a person should face jail time for failing to pay their fine.
Like all tickets under The Summary Offences Procedures Act, those who receive them have options. They can pay the fine, talk to a judge or justice of the peace at a location and date listed on the ticket to discuss the charge or they can plead not guilty and stand trial.
The province’s criminal database records say that 155 charges have been issued under The Public Health Act as of April 30, according to the Minisrty of Justice.
Of the 155 charges, 17 have been convicted, five fines have been fully collected and one has been partially collected for a total of $15,086.
There are 123 more charges pending a court date.
Fifteen charged were withdrawn, a nullity, or jurisdiction was lost.
“Jurisdiction is ‘lost’ when specific circumstances outside of the accused’s control mean that a case cannot proceed as scheduled. Most times when a case cannot proceed, jurisdiction is not lost,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice told CTV News.
The Manitoba government recently announced it will be doubling fines for repeat offenders who defy public health orders. Manitoba premier Brian Pallister also said unpaid fines could impact individuals’ ability to get or renew a driver’s licenses and the province could garnish wages.